A Worthy Achievement
(The following essay by Bishop Franklin H. Sellers first appeared
in the Parish Register of November, 1982)
Certainly, within the Christian community, we would have difficulty finding anyone who would dispute the wisdom of Psalm 92:1, “It is good to give thanks unto the Lord.” It is not unusual, especially for twentieth century Americans, to gather around a family dinner table replete with foods of all sorts, to experience a sincere desire to express thanksgiving to God for his bounty and goodness.
Often in churches or prayer meetings, people gather and sing, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Then, one after another stand and enumerate the things for which they are thankful and, almost without exception, the items, or experiences named are good and pleasant, enriching and rewarding.
Yet, the Apostle Paul, in writing in Ephesians 5:20 , added a new concept of thanksgiving. He wrote, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God…” We Americans are experiencing some difficult times at present. Many have been battered from pillar to post, first losing much of their savings value through high inflation, and then many now fear the added burden of unemployment. Many are bitter, resentful, grumbling and full of complaints. Worry and anger have replaced the uplifting feeling of thanksgiving that God desires us to have.
At this November season of thanksgiving, I would like to suggest that if we are truly Christians and Americans, we should stop and take note of two things. The Apostle Paul, inspired by God's Holy Spirit, wrote, “Giving thanks always for all things.” Not just the good, the blessing, the elating highs of life, but also the difficult experiences, the tough, hard blows that often bring us down upon our knees. These are part of the “all things” of which Paul speaks. Actually, Paul and the Psalmist, guided by God, are closer than we think, because in Psalm 34, we read, “I will bless the Lord at all times.”
You might be aware that I said two things are worthy of notice. Well, the second has to do with real American history. The year was 1620, the month was cold November, and the event was the landing of a small group of very weary “pilgrims” on the bleak, wind-blown shore of New England . The Mayflower had completed a perilous journey over what they called, in their first prayer upon landing, “ye vast and furious ocean.” How hard a journey? Imagine 68 days aboard a small, leaky, wooden vessel on the cold North Atlantic Ocean .
They set sail (their third attempt) on September 6 th and dropped anchor off Cape Cod on November 11, 1620 . On board were 51 “saints” (pilgrims), 50 “strangers” (non-pilgrim-goodmen), including 15 hired hands and indentured servants. On the voyage one died, two were born—thus 101 landed.
One month later they started the first settlement, called “ Plymouth .” Think of December, January, February and March on the blustery winter landscape of the Massachusetts coast. No supermarkets for food, no convenience store for treats, no water lines, sewers, or electric service. No furnace companies, no inns or lodges, and no help from far off England . Indians provided ten bushels of corn, which had to last until the harvest of 1621. In a few months, one half of the Colonists had died. Sorely tried by hunger, biting cold and epidemic, William Bradford said of these debilitating hardships that they “looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens and quieted their spirits.” These were the early Christian-Americans who, in the Fall of 1621, gathered less than one half of their original number and raised their voices to God for their first meager harvest wrought from the new land. They held a great feast, inviting their Indian friends, to give thanks to God. The first Thanksgiving Day was thus celebrated in America by a band of sorely tried men and women, who none the less learned from Scripture to “Give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Since that time, this uniquely American holiday has been recognized by all, from Continental Congress and the founding presidents of the United States , until President Abraham Lincoln, urged by Sarah Josepha Hale, then editor of Godey's Lady's Book, set aside the fourth Thursday of November for this annual celebration.
This year, as you gather to give thanks, remember to strive for a thankful heart to sing God's praises for “all things”—even the “trials by fire” as well as “the reproofs of life”—for by such events and experiences are our characters forged. In all things be thankful, for God had inspired the wisdom of the Epistle to the Romans, where in 8:28 , Paul writes, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Perhaps if we “belly-ache” less, we may enjoy the food even more. Lift up your hearts as well as your heads and give it a try.
A community canvass was conducted on two Saturdays, September 24 and October 1. Packets of New Testaments and information about St. Andrew's were taken to approximately four hundred homes near the church. We heartily thank all those who participated. Let us pray that this effort will bear fruit for God's kingdom.
Our annual Homecoming Sunday took place on October 2, 2005 . The morning service was followed by a luncheon which everyone enjoyed. On the afternoon of Oct. 2 nd we were privileged to have an organ recital dedicating our new Rodgers Trillium Masterpiece Organ. Mr. David Brackley, who taught organ at Moody Bible Institute for 29 years, was the guest organist. The music was truly beautiful. Following the recital there was a reception in the parish hall.
Missionary of The Month
Rev. and Mrs. William Jerdan (Diane). Stephanie, Daniel, Benjamin and Jonathan. Montpellier, France.
Community Thanksgiving Service
The annual Thanksgiving service sponsored by the Tinley Park Ministerial Association will be at St. Andrew's this year. The service will begin at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 23, 2005. Do plan to attend.
Feast of St. Andrew
November 30, 2005. Pot luck dinner at 6:30 p.m. Worship service at 7:30 p.m. The offering will go to World Relief.
Holiday House Walk
St. Andrew's will participate in the Tinley Park Holiday House Walk on Saturday, December 3, 2005. The hours will be 1-5 p.m.
“Family and Friends” CPR classes
Saturday, December 10, 2005
8-10 a.m. CPR for Adults
10:30am-1 p.m. CPR for Infants & Children
1:30-3:30 p.m. CPR for Adults
4-6:30 p.m. CPR for Infants & Children
Sunday, December 11, 2005
12:30-3:00 p.m. CPR for Infants & Children
3:30-5:30 p.m. CPR for Adults
Classes are limited to six people. The cost is $10.00 per person per class. Classes taught by Elisabeth Garrison, MSN, RN. Call the church office to enroll or sign the sheet on the bulletin board.
Nov. 3 – Bishop Franklin Sellers
Nov. 17 – Olive Denning
Nov. 19 – Doris Sellers
Nov. 21 – Bryan Reagan
Nov. 28 – Stella Levi
Nov. 29 – Rev. Craig Smith
by Marion Schoeberlein
Thank You, God, for golden fields,
All the harvest of the year,
No matter where I look, it seems,
You've left a golden treasure here.
My table has chrysanthemums,
And honey, in a great big jar,
The autumn sun is golden, too;
Dear God, how beautiful things are.
When each Thanksgiving comes around
My friends and family are here
To share Your blessings with me now,
To say a quiet, little prayer.
The cider and the singing's sweet,
The turkey and the pumpkin hold
Warm thoughts for everyone today;
They feel Your hug, Your smile of gold!